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Evangelical Voters And Roy Moore


Alabama Senator Richard Shelby made a statement yesterday.


RICHARD SHELBY: I couldn't vote for Roy Moore. The state of Alabama deserves better.

INSKEEP: The Alabama Republican says he could not follow the national Republican Party and back the party's Senate candidate. In a special election, Shelby told CNN he wrote in another Republican on his absentee ballot. The white evangelical vote is a big part of the Alabama electorate, and we've called Penny Young Nance, president of Concerned Women for America, which is a national evangelical group based in Washington. Good morning.

PENNY YOUNG NANCE: Good morning, Steve.

INSKEEP: So, as you know, Roy Moore supporters have said just focus on the votes that they think he'll cast once he's in the Senate. Would you be able to do that?

NANCE: That would be a very difficult decision, and, frankly, I'm glad that I don't have to make it. But, you know, we're watching nationally this unfold. It's almost like turning on the light switch and watching the cockroaches scatter as, you know, media falls, I mean, in NPR and The New York Times and, you know, around the country. And then, of course, corporations have had their problems in the past, and now it's government, and it's very serious. We have called on Congress to give out publicly and be transparent about the members of Congress who have had sexual harassment settlements to the tune of $17 million. We believe very strongly that the American people have a right to know how their tax payers were spent in this issue.

INSKEEP: Well - so you feel this is a very important subject, but here's Roy Moore, he's accused of having had inappropriate relations or even assaulting teenagers, including one who was as young as 14. He's denied - effectively denied everything. Does that make him someone who's worthy of being in the Senate?

NANCE: Well, I think that's a question for the people of Alabama. I mean, that's what they're going to decide tomorrow. They have - unfortunately, the Democrats could have won this handily if they'd been willing to put forward a pro-life Democrat. You know, in the past, we had plenty of those. And slowly but surely, they've been run out of the party. This is going to be - 2018 is going to be a very close election. The numbers in the Senate are 52-48. I counted about nine races that would be competitive if they would be willing to support pro-life Democrats.

INSKEEP: Sounds to me like in spite of the accusations against Moore, this is still a dilemma for you and maybe still a dilemma for many Alabama voters because of abortion.

NANCE: That's correct, and the issue of the Supreme Court. But let's - and so let's think about that for one second. This is a terrible accusation that was held until, you know - what? - a month before the election. I think there still needs to be due process. I think people of Alabama need to go forward in the state looking at the allegations. But what the people of Alabama are troubled by is the fact that Doug Jones supports abortion, even late-term abortion that requires dismemberment of a baby. And so that's...

INSKEEP: Let me just stop you there. I'm sure that Doug Jones would describe it differently. But we'll just note there's been a lot of discussion about abortion for sure.

NANCE: I'm sure he would.

INSKEEP: But let's just focus here for a moment on sexual harassment. This clearly is an issue that troubles you - not quite enough to say that Roy Moore should not be elected. And is it correct that you...

NANCE: No, hold on. I am saying that this needs to be investigated.


NANCE: The Washington Post held this until the very last moment. And so the question is whether it's true or not.

INSKEEP: I wouldn't - I would say I'm not sure that they held it either. It seems to me they sent a reporter down and learned it.

NANCE: Well, I don't know. He ran nationally twice. And this did not come up and then he came up about a month...

INSKEEP: Well, he ran in statewide elections. That's true.

NANCE: Oh, sorry, excuse me, correct, statewide.

INSKEEP: Understand.

NANCE: And it absolutely should have come up before now. If it was an open secret, as they suggested, then it should have come up. So the question is why is it just now - I'm not saying it's not true. Every woman deserves to be heard. I personally come from a background of being a victim of physical assault, attempted rape on a running trail in Virginia. I tend to believe the accuser. But there has to be due process. In all of these matters, everyone deserves that, whether they work at NPR or whether they work in Congress. But we must just look at it.

INSKEEP: Just so we know, that experience - I think you've written about it. This was a boss who - or is that a different experience?

NANCE: No, I'm sorry. I - unfortunately...

INSKEEP: You've had more than one.

NANCE: I also have an - I've written about that. Unfortunately, I was - the difference is sexual harassment versus attempted assault.

INSKEEP: I understand.

NANCE: And those are very difficult subject matters to talk about, but it does give me the perspective, the fact that this is real, and the powerful prey on the weak. And we cannot turn our faces as evangelical Christians away from the suffering. But we deserve to give everyone their say.

INSKEEP: Penny Young Nance - president and CEO of Concerned Women for America. Thanks very much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.